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Australian Labor Party split of 1931

The Australian Labor Party split of 1931 was caused by severe divisions within the Australian Labor Party over their economic response to the Great Depression in Australia. Amidst intense disagreement between economically conservative and radical elements of the party, two senior ministers in the Scullin Labor government, Joseph Lyons and James Fenton, resigned from Cabinet in January 1931. Lyons, Fenton and their supporters would subsequently merge with the conservative opposition Nationalist Party of Australia to form the new United Australia Party, led by Lyons with the last Nationalist leader, John Latham, as his deputy.[1]

In March 1931, the Labor Party split on the left as well, when Eddie Ward, a supporter of radical anti-austerity Premier of New South Wales Jack Lang, won a by-election, and was refused entry to the Labor caucus, resulting in six Lang supporters forming a Lang Labor party on the crossbench. In November, the United Australia Party and Lang Labor succeeded in defeating the Scullin government, resulting in the 1931 federal election in December. The election resulted in a landslide victory for the United Australia Party and the election of Lyons as Prime Minister.[1]

While Lang Labor would eventually be largely reabsorbed into the Labor Party, the United Australia Party continued to be the main conservative force in Australia until replaced by the Liberal Party of Australia in 1945.[1]

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  1. ^ a b c "James Scullin: In office". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 31 August 2015.